The Pacers entered the night desperately in need of a point guard. They left the night in pretty much the same shape.
Unable to complete a deal to land a point guard, the Pacers did pretty much as we said they’d do in this situation: drafted Paul George. Though I would have liked filling that gaping hole at the point much better, I do like this pick.
George looks like a player who is ready to contribute offensively almost immediately, though it’s not entirely clear what position he’ll play. Defensively, he needs to improve his mechanics and grow into his body, but he has the tools to be a special player at this level. Maybe not this season, but down the road, he could be a force defensively on the wing.
This pick — really all of these picks — run somewhat counter to the Pacers’ recent history of drafting 4-year players from major programs. Where Tyler Hansbrough, Brandon Rush, and Roy Hibbert all were reputed to be low risk, low reward players, George is certainly not that. Here’s what DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony tweeted in response to the Pacers’ selection:
Indiana finally grew a pair & stopped hitting singles. I begged my guy there to swing for the fences for once. That’s exactly what they did.
With their second pick (#40), the Pacers took an even bigger chance, selecting Lance Stephenson. A solidly-built, 6-5 shooting guard from Cincinnati, Stephenson represents something of a baffling pick, to me.
First, I’m not sure why they’d add another wing. Second, Stephenson definitely is not the “milk drinker” type. He was a top prospect a year ago coming out of high school — rated ahead of Wall, Cousins, and Favors by some scouting services — but had a somewhat lackluster freshman year. He has a reputation of being a somewhat selfish player, and he has some red flags off the court. This is a guy with a ton of talent, but almost as much baggage. I’m not sure how he’ll work out coming into a pretty weak locker room in Indianapolis — at least from a player leadership standpoint.
Still, to be totally honest, I haven’t seen anywhere near enough to make a complete judgment. Also, it seems that he did largely have his act together at UC — though his shot selection still leaves much to be desired.
So, those are the two wings. The prayer comes in the form of Magnum Rolle — a fantastic name that comes attached to a skinny, 24-year old 6-10 power forward from Louisiana Tech. The Pacers actually drafted Ryan Reid at #57 — who I suspect doesn’t really exist after trying to research him quickly — but traded Reid, along with cash, to Oklahoma City for Rolle, who had been taken with the 51st pick.
Magnum looks like a quick, athletic shot blocker that could play well next to Hibbert — if he develops quite a bit. He won’t ever be a banger, but he could be a decent weakside shot blocker.
The Christmas Wish
I had really wanted to see some clear signal of the direction Bird wants to take the Pacers. Unfortunately, I’m still scratching my head a bit. The Pacers have no point guard, and when asked about it, Bird simply said they’d work on it this summer. From that perspective, I found draft night somewhat unsatisfying.
However, I do like the Paul George pick quite a bit. Also, my more cautious angels are telling me not to confuse activity with accomplishment. There is still a lot of summer left, so I’m sure there are still plenty of moves yet to be made. Still, there’s not a lot here for Pacer fans to really embrace as bold steps forward.
There were a bazillion rumors going on over the last few days, and it seems clear that none really came to fruition. However, these three were interesting:
- Flirting with Thunder
One of the most persistent rumors over the last day was that the Oklahoma City Thunder was trying to acquire the #10 pick. Probably my favorite scenario was getting back Eric Maynor, the #18, and the #21 picks in return for the #10 pick and filler. It seems now that this was never a real possibility, but it sure sounded good at the time. OKC ended up trading the #21 & #26 picks to New Orleans in return for the #11 (Cole Aldrich). They also provided New Orleans with some much needed cap relief by taking back Morris Peterson and his contract. Supposedly, the Pacers turned down a similar offer, where OKC would take T.J. Ford’s contract off our hands. As tempting financially as that is, I think I’d rather roll the dice with Paul George.
- Danny in Danger?
A rumor popped up shortly before the draft that had the Pacers sending Danny Granger & the #10 to New Jersey in exchange for Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian, and the #3 — which the Pacers would use on Derrick Favors. The deal didn’t seem to make a lot of sense for either team, to me, and Larry Bird vehemently denied any such deal. Still, plenty of true things have been vehemently denied, so I’m not real sure what to make of that. Right now, I’ll just decide to be glad it didn’t happen, and move on.
- Bobcat Deal Revisited?
After the selection of Lance Stephenson, I had tweeted that I thought the Pacers might revisit a rumored deal with Charlotte, sending T.J. Ford and Brandon Rush out for a package that might included Raymond Felton as the solution at the point. I don’t know how feasible it is, and more importantly, I don’t know how desirable it would be. However, it is interesting in light of this little twitter exchange Brandon Rush as the Pacers picked:
There’s little reason to believe that Brandon is aware of any imminent deal, but the Pacers now have six wings (Granger, Rush, Dunleavy, D Jones, George, and Stephenson), seven bigs (Hibbert, Murphy, Foster, Hansbrough, McRoberts, S Jones, and Rolle) to go with basically zero functional point guards. It seems only reasonable that something has to give. Doesn’t it?
So, perhaps we should rethink that left turn at Albuquerque.